Cardinals slip past Reds

Published 11:37 pm Saturday, September 4, 2010

ST. LOUIS — Jaime Garcia told himself it was just another game, and when Brandon Phillips came to the plate it was just another hitter.

The rookie maintained his focus to beat the Reds for the fourth time, halting the free-falling St. Louis Cardinals’ five-game losing streak and ending Cincinnati’s four-game run in a 3-2 victory on Friday night.

Garcia’s handling of Phillips delighted the sellout crowd.

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“Whatever happened in the past, I just try to go out there and treat him like any other hitter in their lineup,” Garcia said. “Don’t try to do too much. I’ve got to get that guy the same way I’ve got to get the other eight guys.”

Phillips was booed on almost every pitch he faced and whenever he touched the ball in the field in his first game against St. Louis since his argument with catcher Yadier Molina precipitated a fracas in Cincinnati on Aug. 10. Some fans even convinced one spectator to toss a foul ball off Phillips’ bat back onto the field.

“We expected it,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said after Phillips went 0 for 4 and hit one ball out of the infield. “Hopefully, Brandon will respond a little better tomorrow.”

Major League Baseball assigned the same umpiring crew that worked the Aug. 10 game to a three-game series that lost dramatic punch with the Reds’ surge and the Cardinals’ slide. The Cardinals swept that mid-August series to take a one-game lead in the NL Central, but trail the Reds by seven games even after the win.

St. Louis scored in consecutive innings for the first time in seven games, getting two in the first and one in the second for just enough cushion. Jon Jay had an RBI triple and Albert Pujols followed with a sacrifice fly in the first, and Brendan Ryan singled, went to third on Garcia’s double and scored on Skip Schumaker’s groundout in the second.

The Cardinals are 11-5 against the Reds but only 32-29 overall against the Central. Cincinnati is 34-12 against the rest of the Central.

Paul Janish homered with one out in the third to end Garcia’s run of 22 2-3 innings without allowing an earned run. The 23-year-old left-hander also allowed Jonny Gomes’ RBI double in the fourth and lasted 6 2-3 innings, plus added two hits off Bronson Arroyo (14-9).

“He knows what’s at stake,” manager Tony La Russa said. “Not just who we’re playing, just the fact we’ve had trouble winning the game. He pitched well; he’s done it so many times.”

Garcia (13-6) is 4 for 4 off Arroyo, and 6 for 48 against other pitchers. He’s 4-0 with a 3.70 ERA in four starts against the Reds this year, beating them twice at home and twice on the road, and this was his longest outing by a third of an inning.

“He hit Bronson better than anyone over there,” Baker said. “He kind of beat us by himself.”

Boggs struck out Daniel Stubbs with the tying run on third to end the seventh and the Reds stranded two runners in the eighth against Kyle McClellan before Ryan Franklin finished for his 23rd save in 25 chances — and his first in a week.

Arroyo was lifted after 84 pitches for pinch hitter Miguel Cairo, who grounded out in the seventh with a man on second and the Reds trailing 3-2. It’s only the second time in eight starts that Arroyo worked fewer than seven innings.

“The work load was not a lot, I felt like I was just getting into the game when I had to get out,” Arroyo said. “But that’s just the way it is. That was a great situation for Cairo to hit right there.”

Notes: Garcia’s victory total is the most by a Cardinals rookie since Alan Benes won 13 in 1996. He’s allowed three or fewer runs in 21 of 23 starts against the NL. … Kyle Lohse (2-6, 7.12) was listed as the Cardinals’ probable starter for Tuesday in the game notes, but La Russa said he hadn’t decided. … Janish’s homer was only the second allowed by Garcia in his last seven starts. … Schumaker is batting .385 (15 for 39) against Arroyo after singling twice. … Phillips made his first start since getting hit by a pitch Aug. 25. Since then he’d made three appearances as a pinch runner. … Pujols is in an 0-for-16 slump. … Gomes grounded into his first double play of the season in the second.